This article examines the relationship between music and politics in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), departing from the crucial role the State played there in organizing, and controlling all fields of cultural production. Much of the literature on the subject either depicts the interaction between the State and artists as unidirectional or represents their relationship as highly conflictual due to contrasting understandings of culture and its functions. In both cases, this tendency to dichotomize makes it hard to explain, for instance, how music genres that had arisen in Western countries could flourish in the GDR despite the official understanding of ‘socialist music’ propagated by the Socialist Unity Party (SED). Conversely, by adopting a field perspective, this article aims to highlight how musicians, the State, and Party representatives competed to shape the symbolic space of the GDR musical field. Hence, instead of understanding Party and State decisions as merely applications of ideological principles, a field perspective enables us to consider them as resulting from strategies, depending on both the objective position occupied in the musical field and its spatial-material dimension, and as aimed at maintaining their own power within it. The political elite succeeded, then, in actualizing its strategy of legitimating emerging music genres which were potentially disrupting until it was able to provide musicians with physical cultural spaces for developing their careers and, at the same time, expressing criticisms. On the other hand, from the 1950s, localized music scenes were created which proposed an alternative understanding of music to the official one without, however, refusing the core principles which structured the GDR musical field. After the end of the 1970s, though, new music scenes were formed which positioned themselves outside the institutionalized music spaces and places, refusing in this way the rules of the GDR musical field and questioning its very existence.

Grüning, B. (2022). Cultural spaces as political spaces: The Musical Field of the German Democratic Republic. CULTURAL SOCIOLOGY, 1-27 [10.1177/17499755221078713].

Cultural spaces as political spaces: The Musical Field of the German Democratic Republic

Grüning, Barbara
2022

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between music and politics in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), departing from the crucial role the State played there in organizing, and controlling all fields of cultural production. Much of the literature on the subject either depicts the interaction between the State and artists as unidirectional or represents their relationship as highly conflictual due to contrasting understandings of culture and its functions. In both cases, this tendency to dichotomize makes it hard to explain, for instance, how music genres that had arisen in Western countries could flourish in the GDR despite the official understanding of ‘socialist music’ propagated by the Socialist Unity Party (SED). Conversely, by adopting a field perspective, this article aims to highlight how musicians, the State, and Party representatives competed to shape the symbolic space of the GDR musical field. Hence, instead of understanding Party and State decisions as merely applications of ideological principles, a field perspective enables us to consider them as resulting from strategies, depending on both the objective position occupied in the musical field and its spatial-material dimension, and as aimed at maintaining their own power within it. The political elite succeeded, then, in actualizing its strategy of legitimating emerging music genres which were potentially disrupting until it was able to provide musicians with physical cultural spaces for developing their careers and, at the same time, expressing criticisms. On the other hand, from the 1950s, localized music scenes were created which proposed an alternative understanding of music to the official one without, however, refusing the core principles which structured the GDR musical field. After the end of the 1970s, though, new music scenes were formed which positioned themselves outside the institutionalized music spaces and places, refusing in this way the rules of the GDR musical field and questioning its very existence.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Scientifica
Bureaucratic field; GDR-State; music spatialization; musical capital; musical field;
English
Grüning, B. (2022). Cultural spaces as political spaces: The Musical Field of the German Democratic Republic. CULTURAL SOCIOLOGY, 1-27 [10.1177/17499755221078713].
Grüning, B
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10281/369478
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